Thursday, September 17, 2009

From RV 'Orient Pandaw' to enchanting Kuching

I've wanted to visit Sarawak for a very long time. I lived with my parents in Singapore in the late 1950s and I remember vividly my father telling me about his fascinating trip to Sarawak, which was then a small British colony in the vastness of Borneo.

He had met the Dayaks whom he called the Iban people and recalled the embarrassing moment when he had lost his footing and gone through the floor of the longhouse he was visiting - to the consternation of all! The people were so friendly, he said, that their concern was for his safety not for the damage he caused to their home. So Sarawak went on my long list of places I wanted to visit when I retired from my work as an inspector and adviser in London schools.

I love travelling the world! Sometimes, I travel with my step-daughter and her husband, but mostly I explore by myself, something I've had to get used to since my husband died eight years ago. My interest in people, both my fellow travellers and the indigenous population of the country I'm visiting gives me the stimulus and confidence to travel solo.

Imagine my delight when in April this year I opened an email from a British travel company that I'd used a few years ago. Out from the screen of my computer sprang the picture of an imposing-looking river boat... and it was taking passengers on an eight-day cruise up the Rajang River in Sarawak!

The itinerary looked interesting and the description of the boat's luxuries and standard of service were beguiling. I took the plunge and the travel company booked my cabin, as well as took care of everything else from the flights and necessary connections to the few days' extension I was to spend in Kuching at the end of the cruise.

On August 9, I set off from my home in North London, trundling my suitcase behind me as I took first the local bus and then an hour and a quarter underground train to Heathrow airport. Malaysian Airlines staff did all they could to make the twelve-hour flight to Kuala Lumpur as comfortable as possible. No mean undertaking in economy class, or 'cattle class' as it should be renamed! My eyes couldn't take in the modernity of KL International Airport when we touched down. Last time I was in the city, the most impressive building had been the railway station! A two-hour flight to Sibu passed quickly and after 20 hours of non-stop travelling (most of it moving forward in time at an alarming rate), I reached my destination - the River Vessel 'Orient Pandaw', moored at Sibu.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: From RV 'Orient Pandaw' to enchanting Kuching

No comments: